Children of the Cornpone
Al capp and the backlash politics of the funny pages.
In late 1948, Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip introduced, innocently enough, its merchandising gold mine, the shmoo. The strip’s hero, teenager Abner Yokum, brings the lovable creature back to his hillbilly village of Dogpatch, and nearly ends the United States as we know it. Shmoos, which look like marshmallow quail, are miracle creatures. They lay edible eggs, give milk, taste like chicken when fried and pork when roasted. They provide for every need. Industrialist J. Roaringham Fatback, “the pork king,” sees the national economy plummet, as no one needs any longer to buy or sell anything. Fatback sends an exterminator to wipe out the shmoos, to the delight of businessmen, from CEOs to Dogpatch’s greedy grocer. The shmoo typified Capp—slapstick funny, philosophically challenging our high-consumption
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